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New York State Begins Process Of Booting Spectrum Cable

July 27, 2018 - 3:16 pm
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ALBANY, N.Y. (WCBS 880) -- The battle between New York state and the parent company of Spectrum cable has gone to a new level.

As WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz reported, the New York State Public Service Commission has begun the process of barring Charter Communications from doing business in the state.

When Charter bought Time Warner Cable two years ago, it agreed to expand service to 145,000 New York homes and businesses within four years as part of a deal with the Public Service Commission so that it would approve Time Warner Cable’s sale to Charter.

But Charter, which operates Spectrum, has consistently fallen behind on expanding its service.

The Public Service Commission has now revoked its approval of the 2016 agreement. The commission said in a statement that Charter repeatedly failed to meet deadlines, skirted obligations to serve rural communities, had unsafe practices in the field, failed to commit fully to its obligations from two years ago, and deliberately obfuscated its performance and compliance obligation to the commission and to customers.

“Charter's repeated failures to serve New Yorkers and honor its commitments are well documented and are only getting worse. After more than a year of administrative enforcement efforts to bring Charter into compliance with the Commission’s merger order, the time has come for stronger actions to protect New Yorkers and the public interest,” commission chairman John B. Rhodes said in a statement. “Charter’s noncompliance and brazenly disrespectful behavior toward New York State and Its customers necessitates the actions taken today seeking court-ordered penalties for its failures, and revoking the Charter merger approval.”

If the revocation is followed through to the end, Charter would have to sell off its Spectrum business in New York. But Charter would likely take New York state to court before that happens.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday afternoon the move had to be made since Charter refused to comply with its agreement with the state. He said it is a signal that big business cannot push New Yorkers around.

“These large corporations think they can get away with murder,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo also said a number of companies have already talked with the Public Service Commission about taking Charter’s business off their hands.

Cuomo also accused Charter’s Spectrum News organization – NY1 in New York City – of not reporting on the story. He called it “a virtual blackout,” and said: “If you watch Charter Spectrum, this issue has been going on for months. They haven’t even reported on it.”

A Spectrum News representative said the story has been running and will continue to run. Smeltz also checked the Spectrum Albany news service and the NY1 website, which have not posted the story, though it apparently has been running on the TV service.

In a statement, Charter Communications hints the vote by the commission is politically motivated, saying in the weeks leading up to an election, rhetoric often becomes politically charged.